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Pool Reflections …

Pool Reflections … Pool Reflections …

A day in the life of a Florida public pool inspector

By Lauren Broom

Pool professionals and their employers do not always think about driving safety as a workplace safety issue that could affect them. Pool professionals load up their pool vehicles every day with chemicals, pool equipment, and other items that can be a hazard if their vehicle were to be involved in an accident.

More than 35,000 people die in crashes every year on U.S. roads. That is about 96 deaths per day or 4 deaths every hour. These accidents are more than 90% due to driver error. Therefore, many can be prevented through safety training.

Pool vehicles are involved in some of these accidents, and with the hazardous chemicals on board, they become more dangerous than a normal motor vehicle accident. Pool industry employers should recognize driving safety hazards as an occupational hazard for their employees.

Pool truck with trailer carrying pool chemicals overturned on local highway in Vero Beach FL Why Should You Care

The pool service company needs to see how addressing driving safety as an occupational hazard can impact their businesses. Motor vehicle accidents increase costs due to injuries, higher insurance premiums, and loss of revenue from lost work days. This impacts both large pool service companies and independent service companies financially and can result in a shortage of staff to cover the workload. According to the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the average crash costs an employer more than $16,000. That probably sounds bad enough, but the truth of the matter is that when a worker has an on-the-job vehicle crash that results in an injury, the cost to the employer or owner jumps to more than $70,000.

What can employees and employers do to prevent or reduce driving safety hazards?

Cell phone use has dramatically increased over the past decade, and

Lauren Broom is a Certified Pool Operator Course, CPO ® , instructor and a former health inspector for the Florida Department of Health. Lauren has a Bachelor of Science Degree in Biology and is a registered sanitarian.

She has 16-years of experience in commercial pool inspections and waterborne disease outbreak investigations.

Lauren lives in Palm Bay, Florida with her husband of 17 years and their 3 children. Lauren can be reached at [email protected]

Pool truck/trailer carrying pool chemicals overturned on highway in Vero Beach, FL. Image credit: Lauren Broom

Lauren Broom far too many people use them while driving. Employees use cell phones as a GPS system to find new customers or to follow their pool route. Texting and making phone calls while driving is common due to the employee trying to multi-task between customers on their pool route. Some pool technicians like to listen in to their favorite podcasts while driving. Cell phone use becomes a definite distraction that could vastly increase the chances of a motor vehicle accident. Pool techs should set their GPS before driving or pull over to use them. Unless using a hands-free device or system, they should not receive phone while driving. If the pool tech needs to take a call or other action on the device, they should pull their vehicle over to safe location and put it in park. The use of cell phone blocking apps & devices can help with the urge to pick up their phone while driving, as it keeps phone notifications inactive until the vehicle comes to a full stop.

Employees under the influence of drugs and alcohol should not be in the seat of their pool truck or vehicle. Obviously, their impairment will greatly increase chances of motor vehicle accidents.

A few years ago, a pool technician who was employed by a franchised pool service company located in Tampa, Florida, was involved in a fatal motor vehicle accident with a jogger on the road. In this case, the pool worker was found to be well over the legal limit for intoxication and that he had been impaired by alcohol and use of illegal drugs.

Employers need to be observant of their employees as they start their work shift and when the employee returns. Employers should train themselves on the signs that they may have an impaired worker who should be sent home. Of course, in some instances more drastic measures should be taken, such as dismissal of the employee.

Another circumstance that can add to the risks while on the road is road rage and aggressive driving. Every day, drivers have to address aggressive driving situations. Employers should provide training for their employees about defensive driving skills and conduct annual reviews with their staff. The training should also include the employer discussing risks on the road and encourage employees to adopt safe driving habits.

Employees should recognize when they are drowsy and remove themselves from the driver’s seat. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports more than 1/3 of US adults sleep less than seven hours. More than 5,000 people died in driving-related crashes in 2015 due to drivers falling asleep at the wheel. If the employee is tired, they should address it in one of the following methods: pull over, take a 20-minute nap, drink a caffeinated beverage, or schedule travel breaks.

Additionally, pool vehicles should be parked in proper areas that are safe. Traffic should be able to pass your vehicle on narrow side streets.

The pool tech could use cones to indicate that their vehicle is going to be parked for a time period. This gives the pool tech visible clearance.

Pool techs should perform safety inspections of their vehicles regularly. Some conditions that can become safety hazards while driving are the following: poor tire condition; vehicle lights not working; dash-board warning lights; inoperable vehicle horn; dirty windows and mirrors; and faulty windshield wipers.

Pool tech vehicles carry many chemicals that can become a hazard if the vehicle is involved in an accident. Pool techs should monitor and secure their load in their trucks or trailer. Pool techs should look for chemical leaks and clean up even the smallest spills immediately.

A good rule of thumb is to remove all containers and equipment from the vehicle or trailer and thoroughly hose it out at least once per week.

Employers should provide some level of initial training for new staff and annual training for current staff about driver and motor vehicle safety. Training on work place safety hazards is one of the best ways an employee and employer can help maintain a safe work place. The pool industry includes many work places, and the vehicle must be thought of as one of them.

Pool vehicle with portable pool vacuum involved in motor vehicle accident.

Damage to portable pool vacuum cart.Image credit: Lauren Broom.

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